7 Best New England Beach Towns

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photo©JD

New England is a realm of gorgeous beaches. It is a small piece of heaven that vacationers get to taste. The first time I took a trip to New England, I was a little overwhelmed. I wanted to see everything! There were beach towns scattered everywhere I looked, and my obsession with traveling made it almost impossible not to explode into tiny bits of happiness. My itinerary was pages long, and although it was obvious, I ignored the fact that I simply could not see it all. I wish so badly that someone had taken me aside and pointed me at the best beaches and towns to visit. I didn’t know which towns were musts, but I have lived and learned, and now I must share the seven beach towns to see while vacationing in New England.

1. Plymouth

Plymouth is tops on my list for the amazing beach town it is. There are tons of seafood restaurants, adorable mom-and-pop shops, and a powerful history as one of the oldest towns in the United States. There are two very popular beaches, but I have a soft spot for White Horse Beach. It is slightly more secluded, has free parking, and the sandy shore is very wide and clean. There are no bathrooms, but the peacefulness of an emptier and bigger beach trumps toilets any day.

2. Cape Cod

Everyone has heard of Cape Cod. This travel destination is one of the most popular places to visit in the country. Families love to escape to this beach kingdom and spend the weekend listening to the peaceful sound of water. While exploring this town, don’t forget to relax and enjoy the festivities. There is always something going on at the Cape, and it’s better to go with the flow than stick to a list.

3. Manchester-by-the-Sea

This beautiful town has one of the best beaches in New England. The Singing Beach is made public and provides a smooth walk straight into the glistening water. The entire shore is covered with sand and makes for long, but perfect, shoeless walks right by the water.

4. Ipswich

If you’re visiting Ipswich, then you definitely have to explore Crane Beach. This amazing place has 1,200 acres of beachfront, sand dunes, and thick forest. With the diverse landscape, you really get to experience every type of beach. You can visit the main area that has lifeguards, bathrooms, and shops, or you can discover your own quiet, secluded place.

5. Martha’s Vineyard

This beach destination has the charm you would expect to find on an island. After taking a 35-minute ferry to the island, you will already be drooling over the views. Once across, rent a bike to explore trails along the beach, see adorable lighthouses, and cruise by Victorian homes.

6. Madison

This town is beach paradise. You get the beach, city, and nature all mixed together for one perfect vacation. After exploring the countless shops, take a stroll down to the clean beach. The sand is incredibly soft and makes it easy to build your dream sand castle. Walk the two miles of beachfront while breathing in the 919 acres of green paradise outlining it. After you walk the shore, you will understand why this is one of the most recommended beaches in New England; I can’t even begin to explain the peaceful feeling you get when you step onto the sand.

7. Ogunquit

This town is filled with entertainment and is the perfect place to hit at night. There are dozens of places to dine on fresh lobster while enjoying the view from your seat. The trees are lush, and you can find trails to explore the nature surrounding this town.

With so many beach towns in New England, you will be faced with the pleasant challenge of choosing your favorite. No matter where you decide to vacation, you can’t go wrong with sand, ocean, and lush trees everywhere.

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Foodie Highlights Of San Francisco

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 photo© Tony Webster

Sunny San Francisco is a tourist’s dream place to visit for a day or a couple of weeks. The weather is dreamy, the scenery is spectacular, and there are several things to do on every block. The cherry on top is even better: It is a foodie heaven. So yes, as you can probably guess, it’s that yummy time again — the time I start talking about food. So get comfy, grab a snack, and get ready to drool. If you make your way to San Francisco for a memorable vacation, here are seven foodie highlights you just can’t miss.

NOPA

Start the night out with a drink, then dive right into the flat-bread appetizers that are dripping in spicy flavor. For the entree, you can choose among all of your favorite American foods, but the pork chops are out of this world — and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t typically like pork chops. If you have room in your stomach — you won’t, but if you do — you have to order the sopapillas with a burnt orange caramel sauce.

Aziza

This unique restaurant serves Moroccan cuisine that is chef-perfected. The dim lights and exquisite seating create the perfect atmosphere for a romantic evening. The meat is cooked to fall right off of the bone, and the wine makes this fine-dining restaurant worth the money.

Tony’s Pizza Napoletana

I am really picky when it comes to pizza. I don’t want it to taste like some frozen dinner that has sat in grease for hours, so the fact that I recommend this restaurant means it is good — I mean really good! The crust tastes like homemade bread, and I guiltily eat it first. The large room makes it a fun environment to bring big groups of people and young kids.

Maven

This American restaurant has everything from oysters to delicious cocktails. The sliders are, of course, a must and are reasonably priced. Duck is one of those meats that doesn’t always appeal to everyone, but boy, are the duck sliders tasty!

Super Duper Burgers

This restaurant serves burgers that are, well, super-duper! First of all, these burgers are huge, and the fries will probably end up on your plate uneaten. The variety of flavors makes it easy to find one that is made for you. I recommend going out of your comfort zone and trying something different; all of the burgers are good, so you can’t go wrong.

La Taqueria

The line running out the door is proof of how good this restaurant really is. The burritos and tacos will be the tastiest Mexican food you have ever had. Pick out the ingredients you want and they will wrap them all up in a homemade tortilla. You should definitely add this place to your trip plan for lunch, dinner, or both.

Green’s Restaurant

Vegetarians struggle to find five-star restaurants that serve food that is not only vegetarian but tasty, too. Green’s is yummy even for meat-eaters, and the view of the water makes it a vacation experience. While planning your trip, this is the place to stop to truly experience the beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Still hungry to learn more? Check out Eater’s list of essential San Francisco restaurants, restaurant reviews from the San Francisco Bay Guardian, or a dining guide from KelsEats. Bon appetit!

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Planning Your Ultimate Florida Road Trip

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photo© Allie Couture

If I had to choose one state in the U.S. as the best for road trips, then without a doubt, I would say Florida. I grew up on the West Coast, but the perfect weather, white sandy beaches, food, attractions, and sunsets often beckon me to Florida. It is a great place to live, but the roads that curve beside the beaches and between waters makes it worth driving for hours. Sometimes I feel like Florida is its own country; it is completely different from the rest of the U.S. With so many places to see, tourist locations, and breathtaking sunsets, a road trip driving around the entire coastline is the only way to see it all.

1. Pensacola

The best place to start is Pensacola. Here, you will find a short road called the Pensacola Scenic Bluffs highway that travels a quick 11 miles along bluffs high above the bay. From the highest point on the Florida coast, you will get to see some of the best views in Florida.

2. Panama City

Next stop is Panama City. Take a couple of days off from driving and enjoy the beach, good food, and countless attractions. Aaron Bessant Park is a newer park located right on the beach. With a huge amphitheatre, you can enjoy listening to some local artists while relaxing with the view of the ocean.

3. Homosassa

Drive into nature at Homosassa. This hidden gem is bursting with life, endless views, and lush trees. Take an exciting manatee tour or enjoy the sites at the wildlife park.

4. Tampa

Time to park the car and take a few days to enjoy Tampa tourism — well, to fully enjoy it, it would take weeks! I would recommend Busch Gardens and the IMAX Theater at the Museum of Science and Industry for the adventure-seekers. Big Cat Rescue is a retreat for cats and is a relaxing tranquil environment that’s completely intriguing for nature lovers. Don’t forget to walk along Bayshore Boulevard.

5. Siesta Key

If I am going to go on a road trip around Florida, it is to see the dreamlike beaches, and Siesta Key Beach is one of the most famous ones in the nation. The sand is so soft that it literally feels like silk running through your fingers. From the giant shores to the bathrooms, everything is cleaned up to perfection. It’s a great place to spend the day and relax before hitting the road again.

6. Florida Keys Scenic Highway

A road trip wouldn’t be complete without a drive across the Florida Keys Scenic Highway. While hopping across islands and driving over a bridge for miles, you will be completely surrounded by the big blue ocean. Every island has places to stop so you can enjoy the views and breathe in the smell of the ocean. Everything about the Florida Keys is so perfectly designed for road trips that I demand this area be added to every vacation.

7. Miami

Miami is filled with entertainment and culture. As it’s one of my favorite cities in Florida, I would recommend spending a day or two hitting up the museums, restaurants, and zoos. Florida gets hot, and depending on the time of year you choose to go on your road trip, if you aren’t at the beach, you are going to want to spend as much time as you can inside an air-conditioned building. Try out Bayfront Park for a nice view of the ocean while you dine on some delicious food. Then visit Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Perez Art Museum Miami, or maybe the Miami Seaquarium or Zoo Miami.

8. Indian River Lagoon National Scenic Byway

This 150-mile scenic byway can be driven in just four hours. If you want to truly enjoy it, then I would spread the drive out over two days. Starting around Sebastian, you will get to drive right next to the ocean. I would stop at Melbourne Beach and Cocoa Beach for delicious food and a moment to swim in the ocean.

9. Orlando

Depending on whether you want to enjoy theme parks, Orlando is a city you can drive to and enjoy it for several days, or you can continue up the coast. If you haven’t been to Walt Disney World, then it should be on your map: It is as magical as they tell you. Universal Studios is right next door and is just as exciting and fun for adults.

10. Ormond Scenic Loop and Trail

This is the perfect scenic loop road to complete your Florida road trip. Over its 36 miles, you will drive through 10 different state and local parks and 10 miles of beachfront. When you finish, take a moment to look out at the ocean because you have just completed a road trip around Florida’s coast.

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19 Mind Blowing Restaurants In Las Vegas

Sushi

photo© Michele Ursino

Whenever I start planning a vacation, my thoughts somehow wander to food. I begin drooling just thinking about sushi, ribs, and decadent desserts all served with a glass of wine on an outdoor patio. I could blame it on a growling stomach, but honestly, food is a huge part of all of my vacations. I love to try new things and experience unique atmospheres specific to a location. The combination of using multiple senses while devouring a plate of perfect sushi is what makes my trips unforgettable. Las Vegas has some of the best restaurants in the entire country. The food is nothing but divine, and the over-the-top décor makes every aspect of eating mind-blowing. There is every type of cuisine you can imagine, and you can eat it several stories above the ground, out on a patio, or while watching a show. Las Vegas is heaven for foodies or anyone who has taste buds. While I could go on and on about all of the amazing restaurants, I have shortened my list to under 20: Here are 19 places that will make any food-lover drool and unashamedly lick their plates. Read more ›

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Having Fun At The Fort Meyers Film Festival

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photo©LancerE

Film festivals are exciting for audiences who truly appreciate the art of film making. I love art and movies, and film festivals are right up my alley as far as entertainment options are concerned. The director and cast are usually present, and getting to meet with them is one of my favorite parts. The entire atmosphere is energized with life and diversity. Most people who attend are just as interested in movies as me, which makes it easy to start conversations and make new friends. The Fort Myers Film Festival doesn’t fail to impress as it lets you experience flavors of films from every genre and style, from long length documentaries, to quick thirty-second clips. There is something for everyone and plenty to explore and see.

Thank God for Indie Mondays

The Fort Myers Film Festival began four years ago as a way to support local filmmakers. Every year starting at the beginning of September and ending in February they host an event on Mondays called T.G.I.M, or Thank God for Indie Mondays. If you are anything like me, then Monday’s are the worst day of the week. I definitely would appreciate a fun event like this that I could look forward to every Monday for five straight months. This season was held from September 9, 2013-February 24, 2014. It is open up to everyone to experience fun, heart-gripping, and of course down-right horrible films. As the judges review countless films, they get to see it all. Only the best are selected to be shown at the Fort Myers Film Festival.

The Fort Myers Film Festival

March will be here in no time. Producers are counting down the days to the event where they will show their artistic cinematic films. With over four dozen filmmakers attending, the event is packed with entertainment that stretches out over five days. The crowd is filled with movie-lovers and some of the most interesting people around. Anyone who loves Indie films and wants to experience fine and detailed filming will appreciate everything from the people to the red carpet. The event will be held March 19-23, and you can buy tickets online. The event opens up at 7 p.m. on March 19th at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. A red carpet is rolled out in style to greet the crowd of paparazzi. The films will be shown in several different locations depending on the ones you choose; Sidney and Berne Davis Art Center, Ford’s Garage, and Firestone are some of the main theaters hosting the films. Everyone has different tastes and interests; I personally love a good a film that brings across an important message that is often overlooked. Reading up on past films played, discussions of the upcoming festival, or reading a review of previous films, will give you an idea of what type of genres will be played.

Visiting Fort Myers

Whether you decide to attend the festival for one day or the entire five, you can’t go to Fort Myers without enjoying the good food and beautiful beaches. The Fort Myers Beach is a tropical paradise with silky white sand, warm ocean water, and a beach to relax on. Once my tan has started to show, I stop by a local café for a light lunch. Wisteria Tea Room and Café is a lovely place to eat with a relaxing vibe. The Wisteria house salad, any of the scones, and the soups are your best-bets. If you want to experience unique food, then try Blue Windows French Bistro. I haven’t seen very many authentic French restaurants, but this Bistro offers great food and great service all with French style. Between the film festival, the stunning beach, and the vast food venues, Fort Myers is definitely worth a visit.

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7 Best Theme Parks To Spend Your Holiday Cash In

DisneyWorld

photo© Candace Lindmann

I can still remember the very first big roller coaster I ever went on. When we arrived to the park, I could see glimpses of brown tracks poking out over the fence and tall trees, and it made me giggle with excitement. We eagerly got in a very long line and patiently waited our turn to ride a wooden roller coaster. At last, it was my turn! I stepped into the cart, sat down, and held onto the metal bar pushed against my lap. Then the ride began. It started out slow, creaking with movement and thumping loudly. As the top neared, I tried to lift my arms into the air like all the other kids. Then our cart dropped, along with my stomach. My hands instantly fell down and gripped the bar tightly. My heart beat fast, my eyes watered from the speed, and my hair whipped behind me. It was absolutely terrifying, and I loved it! When the ride ended, I was out of my seat and running for the next roller coaster. That day was a day I will never forget; it was the day I discovered how thrilling theme parks are. Read more ›

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9 Best Ways To Spend Christmas In Manhattan

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photo© Nicholas B.

Christmas is a favorite holiday for people around the world; there is no denying that it is my favorite! No matter how old I get, it is something I look forward to every single year. It makes me feel like a kid again, and sometimes I need that magical energy to keep going. Christmas at my house was always filled with presents, laughing, drinking eggnog, and watching classic Christmas movies. I remember returning to school and hearing my friends share stories of traveling to Disneyland or even Hawaii for the Christmas break. It sounded thrilling to go someplace different and unique. A vacation to somewhere as exciting as Manhattan will make it a Christmas you will never forget and always cherish. Here are nine ways to spend Christmas in Manhattan.

1. Seeing The Rockettes Perform at Radio City Music Hall

The dancing is so precise and unique it will be hard to pull your eyes away. The Rockettes will you have you wishing the show would just keep going on and on.

2. Ice Skating at Rockefeller Center

There are many movies I have watched with couples and families Ice Skating in New York. They always have me wishing for a day on the ice. No matter how old or young you are, it is dreamy skating in a New York setting.

3. Seeing the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center

You don’t have to chop your own tree down in the woods to get that picturesque Christmas scene when you can walk down to Rockefeller Center and be stunned by the lights and colors of a brilliant Christmas tree.

4. Toy Shopping at FAO Schwartz

Whether you are only three-years old or ninety-two, this toy store will have you drooling. As one of the most famous toy stores in the world, this has every imaginable toy, making it a wonderland for the young and the young at heart.

5. Take in a Broadway Show

No matter what time of year you visit New York, you can’t vacation here without seeing a Broadway show. From the details in the clothing to the breath-taking voices, your eyes will be glued to the stage during every song.

6. The Big Apple Circus

I love a good circus act, and the Big Apple Circus blows all the others right out of the water. From tight-ropes to complete surprises, this circus will have you and your family entertained for hours.

7. Window Shopping

Window shopping in Manhattan is not your typical quick-look shopping. The decorations, lighting, and displays are brilliantly laid out making it difficult to move quickly from store to store.

8. New York City Holiday Lights Tour

This tour will show you the best parts of New York during the Christmas season. With two hours, you will get to enjoy all the lights without getting a workout or feeling rushed.

9. The Nutcracker Ballet

The Nutcracker has been performed for many years in New York and is the ending to a dream Christmas vacation. It truly makes the spirit and excitement of Christmas come alive.

 

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Why The Outer Banks Is Your Ideal Family Thanksgiving Destination

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photo© Phyllis

Thanksgiving is drawing close, and plans to get together with family and friends are written up and scheduled. It is a special holiday where we should sit down and take a moment to be thankful for the wonderful world around us. Growing up, I loved getting together with cousins and laughing as we ate a big turkey dinner. I would stuff myself silly with potatoes, rolls, gravy, cheesy vegetables, and green bean casserole; after my plate was licked clean, I would continue eating pies until it hurt to move or breathe.

Thanksgiving memories always make me smile, but there was one particular year that will always stand out to me. It was the year we left the comfort of our home and went on vacation. It was exciting to enjoy more than just one day; we got a full week together filled with family activities and lasting memories. Escaping the world for an entire weekend will make it a Thanksgiving that will never be forgotten. The Outer Banks, NC is the perfect destination for the family wanting to have fun, relax, and enjoy the perfect weather. Here are just a few of the many reasons The Outer Banks is the place to stay.

Tasty Food

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Thanksgiving? I am going to take a gamble and assume you think about food. Well The Outer Banks has some of the best restaurants in the nation and with more than one day to eat, you can enjoy several of the most popular ones around. Kelly’s Outer Banks Restaurant is open year round and serves a special Thanksgiving Day banquet that is elegant and delicious.

Great Weather and Beautiful Location

Planning a vacation to The Outer Banks during the off season means a relaxing atmosphere that is quiet and safe for children. The weather is perfect to sit back and breathe in the pleasant air. Fall is one of my favorite seasons on the coast because it’s not too hot or too cold. You can escape to the ocean with a light-jacket and enjoy the gentle breeze. The trees, sand, and sunsets make for stunning scenery no matter where you go.

Family Activities

There are so many fun things to do in The Outer Banks, but some of my favorites are family friendly places and are completely free, too. A day or two spent at the beach building sand castles, flying kites, eating a picnic, and taking pictures is a must for every vacationer. Another fun spot to visit is the tallest sand dune on the east coast at Jockey’s Ridge State Park. Enjoy running up and rolling down the dune and even try your hand at sand-boarding. There are many historic places to explore. Hundreds of years ago, ships would constantly crash upon the shores leaving their wreckage behind. The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum is a maritime museum that preserves the ships and their debris and puts them on display. From the fun little shops to almost 250 historic structures, Ocracoke Island is a unique place to visit for an entire day. Another must is taking a stop at one of the many lighthouses for a tour and a beautiful view. These are just a few of the top ten The Outer Banks activities a family can enjoy together during a Thanksgiving vacation. No matter where you decide to go, it will be fun being with your family and possibly starting a new tradition.

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7 Reasons Kissimmee Florida Is Your Ideal Travel Spot

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photo©Alberto Cabello Mayero

Every few months or so, I get that familiar itch to go on a vacation and explore a new city. I usually begin searching the Internet, browsing fun places to see, exciting theme parks, and beaches. My searches usually take me back to one of my favorite cities, Kissimmee. It has it all and with hundreds of things to do, there is always something I haven’t seen yet. If you are on the fence about where to spend your next vacation, check out these reasons Kissimmee, FL is your ideal travel spot.

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Bio and Blog Launch!

karenGreetings wonderful Internet world! My name is Karen Fowler and I am very happy to announce that I have recently been asked to help develop content for the website Vacationhomerentals.com. Since traveling and adventure are two of my favorite things, accepting this position was an easy decision to make. I cannot wait to tell all of you about the parts of the world I find the most interesting. Before I get into that though, let me tell you more about who I am and where I came from.

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